I'm not sure of the blogging ethics that are in play with this new genre but I'm going to risk taking it as an opportunity to write a note to friends. If this violates something, someone enlighten me please.
I've always been accused of giving TMI [too much info] from the pulpit and it was in the context of being too free with personal information, whether it be of struggle or emotions or doubt or whatever, but I'm afraid that's the way I am. [Some people like a pastor on a pedestal and I've always refused that lofty position.] So, having given that disclaimer, here's a kind of personal note to a bunch of friends, albeit on a blogg.
I really enjoyed reading your responses to the article by Jon Zens entitled "Four Tragic Shifts Of The Church" posted on Saturday, October 7th. His web-site is www.searchingtogether.org. It is a web page that presents material from a magazine "Searching Together" that is the publication of a fellowship of believers at Word of Life Church in Taylor Falls Minnesota. Jon Zens is the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine which, by the way, I've read for years.
Now, it is not Southern Baptist, and I don't know all the writers, but I'm very familiar with the theological insights of Jon Zens and have been blessed beyond measure by them. No one believes everything another believer holds to I would hope. But his writings are biblical sound and challenging to the extreme. I like that.
You do too evidently. The e-mails have FAR outnumbered the comments on the post. I've received e-mails literally from several nations including Japan and others. The response was very positive although many saw, as I knew you would, the challenge to "traditional" thinking and chose to ask questions and make comments to me only, thus the e-mails. I consider those private and personal on your part and will keep them that way.
My purpose in what I'm writing these days is to catch you up on my personal theological journey, which I've started doing in past posts, but I was so impressed by your response to this particular article I needed to address it. I fully understand the significant struggle that will ensue if we ever were to take seriously the message of those shifts that have been destructive and debilitating to the Body of Christ, but because of our commitment to Truth revealed and our Lord's command to make disciples, I believe we must be open and face the challenge.
One other thing. Jon's statement, just before getting into a discussion of the first of the four shifts, where he says, "I believe that it is far more important to capture the spirit of church life as we see it unfolded in the New Testament, than it is to try and woodenly replicate cultural particulars of that first century. We do not live in the first century, but the concepts and principles in the New Testament endure and will come to expression in any culture," is a profound and church-shaking reality. It is that struggle between adapting to cultural methods and staying true to preaching/teaching AND experiencing as a body those concepts and principles, that is our dire need in SBC life IMHO.
I'm going to address church life as I've come to see it in scripture immediately. It will not be in total alignment with any group, including Jon Zens group. He will be the first to see the legitimacy of that. It certainly isn't in agreement with much of Southern Baptist Church life. But that's the beauty of being a baptist. I can disagree, grow, change, and fulfil the heart of baptist life in staying true to my understanding of the text of scripture.
What I share [I need to say this] does not reflect what Wade Burleson, our son and the center of much Southern Baptist controversy today, believes. He has taught me as much as I have taught him, but he speaks for himself [and extremely well I might add] and I do not speak for him. If anyone were to assign to Wade anything I say about my own theological journey and belief system, it would be unfair to him and unchristian of them. It's, of course, not like all that many will read what I say, but you never know. :)
I told you this would be a personal word and I've fulfilled that warning haven't I. It's good to be back and, with some time off now, I hope to put my thoughts into print. My first will be my reflections on the first point of the article by Jon Zens. I've had a partial draft waiting for weeks and it is on that subject. I couldn't get it finished for today but needed to say this anyway. Bless you and thanks for being friends.